An American Cakewalk: Ten Syncopators of the Modern World (Hardback)Zeese Papanikolas (author)
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The profound economic and social changes in the post-Civil War United States created new challenges to a nation founded on Enlightenment and transcendental values, religious certainties, and rural traditions. Newly-freed African Americans, emboldened women, intellectuals and artists,and a polyglot tide of immigrants found themselves in a restless new world of railroads, factories, and skyscrapers where old assumptions were being challenged and new values had yet to be created. In An American Cakewalk: Ten Syncopators of the Modern World, Zeese Papanikolas tells the lively and entertaining story of a diverse group of figures in the arts and sciences who inhabited this new America.
Just as ragtime composers subverted musical expectations by combining European march timing with African syncopation, so this book's protagonists-who range from Emily Dickinson to Thorstein Veblen and from Henry and William James to Charles Mingus-interrogated the modern American world through their own "syncopations" of cultural givens. The old antebellum slave dance, the cakewalk, with its parody of the manners and pretensions of the white folks in the Big House, provides a template of how the tricksters, shamans, poets, philosophers, ragtime pianists, and jazz musicians who inhabit this book used the arts of parody, satire, and disguise to subvert American cultural norms and to create new works of astonishing beauty and intellectual vigor.
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 454 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
"The great appeal of this book is its freedom from conventional categories, its charming, at times moving, style of writing, which captures a special rhythm in American popular culture. This is an important book, and literate Americans should read it." -- John Dizikes, Professor Emeritus of American Studies * University of California, Santa Cruz *
"An American Cakewalk is a delight. Once I waded in, I did not want to be called back to shore. Not a cultural history, nor an argument with others, this book is a labor of love, serious in its prose and intentions, abounding with insight, written with verve and grace." -- George Cotkin * author of Dive Deeper: Journeys with Moby Dick (2012) *
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